Cautious Wuhan residents tentatively venture outside community gates

For the first time in more than two months, residents of the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the worldwide outbreak of the corona virus has occurred, have begun to leave their homes.

“We just feel very happy today,” said 24-year-old Sainan Qian, who visited the city’s famous cherry blossoms this week after leaving her residential area for the first time in 63 days. “At the moment everyone could use a little hope.”

Sainan Qian visits the cherry blossom at Northwest Lake Park in Wuhan, China on Thursday. Sainan Qian

Wuhan, where the coronavirus first appeared in December, has seen a relaxation of restrictions in recent days.

Like many Chinese cities, Wuhan is divided into buildings that often consist of a handful of apartment blocks, outdoor spaces, and perhaps a grocery store. They are often screened and fenced off from the street; A number of these connections form a district.

Some residents were able to leave their buildings in the city, the capital of Hubei Province, if they have a so-called “green code” that proves that they are healthy and free of symptoms.

Local authorities informed them last week that if their district were found to be virus-free, they would be able to enter the area in phases, grouped by their buildings. If your district is “epidemic free” for a week, convenience stores, pharmacies, and vegetable markets could reopen, despite inspections and risk assessments.

Earlier this week, the authorities in Hubei said workers could go directly to and from work from midnight on Wednesday, provided that their companies had made an application and the workers had fulfilled, among other things, the health certificate.

These restrictions will be lifted on April 8th to allow Wuhan residents outside the city and province to move for the first time in weeks. .

“We are entering a new phase in this quarantine, they are trying to relax the restrictions, and I expect they will see what happens,” said Doug Perez, 29, a California teacher who lived in Wuhan for two years. “The best way to describe it is to make it appear experimental.”

After the United States reported the world’s highest number of coronavirus cases earlier this week, the Chinese authorities said on Friday that no new cases had been reported in Wuhan in the past 24 hours and only 55 new cases had been reported nationwide. Of these, 54 were so-called “imported” cases brought into the country by foreigners or returning Chinese nationals.

However, there were four new deaths in Wuhan City with a population of 11 million.

Perez said during a recent exploration outside of his residential area that he had seen families walk, a fishmonger gutted fish at a local market, and even started little traffic on the streets.

However, there is a feeling that these are the beginnings and it is unclear how less restrictions on daily life will affect this production center. This caused initial hesitation among many residents, and some said they were careful when venturing outside.

A couple hug each other in Jiangtan Park after its reopening in Wuhan on Thursday.Getty Images

Others said that despite their new freedoms, they decided to stay inside. The people of Wuhan have learned that life is fragile, so they think it may not be worth venturing outside at this stage.

As a result, neither people took to the streets, nor did locals report that they saw mass celebrations.

Some, like Perez, also feared that the virus could make a comeback.

“If everyone goes out again, it seems reasonable that there could be a second wave,” he said. “The date I’m most afraid of is the official date, April 8th. I don’t want to be near the streets.”

Others failed because of the bureaucratic hurdles that they had to overcome in order to walk around in their districts.

“It’s just too complicated,” said Liu Fangjing, 22, a student who has been able to leave her community’s borders but has chosen to stay at home. “Furthermore, none of the restaurants or cinemas are open.”

Saphora Smith and Matthew Mulligan reported from London; Leou Chen from Shenzhen and Eric Baculinao from Beijing.

Eric Baculinao contributed.

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